Elections

Issues ››› Elections
  • Fox News Revives Debunked Claim That Democratic Primary Was “Rigged”

    Fox Spins Hacked DNC Emails To Claim Clinton’s Victory Is “Illegitimate”

    ››› ››› TYLER CHERRY & NICK FERNANDEZ

    Fox News figures distorted the contents of hacked emails from the Democratic National Committee (DNC) to claim that the Democratic presidential primary was “rigged” and that Hillary Clinton’s victory is “illegitimate.” But media have noted that Clinton won “her party’s nomination by every available measure” and that the hacked emails in no way prove the primary was “rigged.”

  • At Party Conventions, Big Oil’s Media Manipulation Strategy Is On Full Display

    Blog ››› ››› ANDREW SEIFTER

    A few months ago, we documented that the American Petroleum Institute (API), the trade group for oil companies including industry giants ExxonMobil, BP America, Chevron, ConocoPhillips and Shell, was blanketing CNN’s airwaves with ads persuading Americans to support the oil industry’s agenda. It’s a standard formula for the well-heeled industry to control the on-air narrative around climate and energy issues -- and one that in this case drowned out the cable network’s meager discussion of the ominous global warming records that were being set.  

    Now, as the Republican and Democratic parties are in the midst of hosting their national conventions, we are reminded of yet another tool at Big Oil’s disposable for influencing media coverage of key energy issues. Vote4Energy, the same API campaign featured in the ads on CNN, is sponsoring events held by Politico, The Atlantic, and The Washington Post at both conventions.

    As reported by The Intercept's Alex Emmons, at the recently concluded GOP convention, The Atlantic hosted a forum on energy and the environment that featured two climate science-denying congressmen and an API lobbyist -- with no one present to address the scientific facts of climate change. The Intercept added that API also sponsored events held by The Washington Post and Politico “where API literature was distributed, API representatives gave opening remarks, and not one speaker was an environmentalist, climate expert, scientist, or Democrat.”

    Both The Atlantic and the Post said that they tried but were unable to find speakers who could represent the other side of the energy debate. In any event, the end result was a forum for misinformation. For instance, all three events included at least one speaker who espoused some form of climate science denial, according to remarks included in The Intercept article:

    At The Atlantic‘s event, [North Dakota Rep. Kevin] Cramer and [Ohio Rep. Bill] Johnson both downplayed concerns about climate science. “The 97 percent of the scientists who believe [it’s] real, don’t all believe the exact same level,” said Cramer. “Whose fault it is, what’s going to stop it … there’s a wide range in that spectrum.”

    [...]

    At the Washington Post’s discussion, Rep. Marsha Blackburn, R-Tenn., said that in the past 15 years the earth was, on average, “cooling down,” but stressed “the point is that it’s not a settled science.”

    [...]

    At Politico‘s API-sponsored event, the oil lobbying group’s CEO, Jack Gerard, opened the event by telling the audience that “the United States has become the superpower of energy in the world.”

    Rep. Cramer, who was also a guest at the Politico event, joked with the audience that in his home state of North Dakota, “we’re for a warmer climate.”

    The media figures hosting the events provided limited pushback, according to The Intercept, even though the media organizations insisted that the presence of their journalists was enough to hold the panelists accountable. The most direct rebuttal to outright denial came from Washington Post opinion writer Stephen Stromberg, who informed Rep. Blackburn that “I think there would be a vast bulk of climate scientists who would disagree” with her statements about climate change, but then allowed that “we don’t have to litigate the science of it this morning.” The Atlantic’s panel moderator, Steve Clemons, told The Intercept that “I had trust in my own ability to be the alternative, and I had trust that the audience would ask questions to provide balance,” but he also conceded that he “should have done more.”

    The Atlantic, the Post, and Politico all have similar events lined up for the Democratic National Convention, which has spurred advocacy group Climate Hawks Vote to launch a petition calling on Democratic officials not to appear at the API-sponsored events. As Hill Heat noted, Sen. Richard Durbin (D-IL) recently condemned API for its role in spreading climate science denial during his contribution to senators’ “web of denial” speeches on the Senate floor.

    Beyond the conventions, another reminder of the oil industry’s multifaceted approach to co-opting media is taking place at the Los Angeles Times, where the Occidental Petroleum spinoff company California Resources Corp. (CRC) has teamed up with the Times’ “content solutions” team to dole out more industry propaganda on the Powering California website.

    As we’ve explained, the Times’ branded content department, which the newspaper says is wholly independent from its reporting and editorial staff, produced a fearmongering video for CRC last fall suggesting that life as we know it would descend into chaos without the oil industry.

    A year later, as the oil industry stands in the way of California passing critical legislation that would set the standard for other states to fight climate change, Powering California is out with a series of new videos praising oil and attacking clean energy sources. One of the videos baselessly asserts that “renewable energy can’t replace oil,” falsely claims wind energy is “expensive,” and bombastically declares that “oil and natural gas are woven into the fabric of America.” Another video features feel-good man-on-the-street interviews with paid actors touting California’s oil and gas industry.

    Concerns about these types of arrangements between media and the fossil fuel industry have not subsided, despite media organizations’ assurances that the relationships would not affect their coverage. Pointing to the API-sponsored events and The Hill’s offer to “sell interviews” at the conventions, The Intercept’s Emmons concluded: “What were once blurred lines in the journalism business are becoming increasingly clear -- because they have been crossed.”

  • New Yorker’s David Remnick: The GOP Convention “Was Like A Four-Day-Long Fox-Fest”

    Blog ››› ››› MEDIA MATTERS STAFF

    New Yorker editor David Remnick detailed the nexus between the messaging of Fox News and that of Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump in his comments at the GOP convention, explaining that Trump “adopted Fox rhetoric, Fox fury, and Fox standards of truth and falsehood” along with his own “Trumpian nativist flair.”

    Trump has a long relationship with Fox News and Fox News personalities. This close relationship led Trump to receive nearly double the airtime of any other candidate on the channel during the Republican primary. Trump’s camaraderie with Fox was criticized by conservative commentators who labeled the network a “Donald Trump super PAC,” while other media figures have highlighted Fox News’ role in the rise of Trump.

    In an article that will appear in the August 1 issue of The New Yorker, editor David Remnick pointed to the Republican National Convention, which he described as “a four-day-long Fox-fest, full of fearmongering, demagoguery, xenophobia, third-rate show biz, pandering, and raw anger,” as evidence of the relationship between Trump and former Fox News CEO Roger Ailes. From the article:

    The Ailes-Trump relationship has been turbulent, roiled by the differences of large narcissisms—two immense egos competing for the same ideological berth. Last year, Trump moodily boycotted Ailes’s network, complaining that Megyn Kelly, as a debate moderator, had unreasonably quoted back to him some of his most memorable descriptions of half of humanity: “fat pigs,” “slobs,” “disgusting animals.” Nevertheless, Trump, who admits that he reads almost nothing and gets his information from “the shows,” adopted Fox rhetoric, Fox fury, and Fox standards of truth and falsehood, all with a dollop of Trumpian nativist flair. The Republican Convention in Cleveland last week was like a four-day-long Fox-fest, full of fearmongering, demagoguery, xenophobia, third-rate show biz, pandering, and raw anger. By comparison, Nixon in ’68 was Adlai Stevenson murmuring sonnets at a library luncheon.

    [...]

    Still, Ailes could take paternal pride in Trump’s acceptance speech. The nominee began with a phrase about “generosity and warmth” (barked, it’s true, as if some kind of threat), but—untethered to statistics or facts, and with his inner volume dialled past eleven—Trump went on to portray a country facing a Clinton legacy of “death, destruction, and weakness,” a nation of lawless immigrants roaming cities and towns, “chaos” in the streets, radical Islamic terrorists opposed by nothing but a pusillanimous government and its popgun military.

    [...]

    The reckoning was long overdue. Ailes’s most ominous political spawn, however, has so far evaded accountability. Ivanka Trump introduced her father by reminding the Convention of the tremendous “sacrifice” he had made to take a leave from his business to run for office. Now, having conquered “the party of Lincoln,” the most dangerous candidate for the White House in generations is hoping to win on a platform of paranoia. We hear sirens in the night.

     
  • PolitiFact Debunks Trump’s “Dead Wrong” Smear Of Tim Kaine

    Blog ››› ››› MEDIA MATTERS STAFF

    PolitiFact’s Warren Fiske corrected Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump after he erroneously claimed that Democratic vice presidential candidate Tim Kaine took more undisclosed personal gifts than former Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell.

    McDonnell and his wife were convicted in 2014 on 11 counts of corruption after being accused of taking “undisclosed” gifts from businessman Jonnie Williams in exchange for connecting him to state officials, including $120,000 in loans, a Rolex watch and the use of Williams’ vacation home. The Supreme Court later overturned the conviction, saying it was unclear that McDonnell had acted inappropriately on Williams’ behalf. Virginia Sen. Tim Kaine also took gifts from several companies, including Barr Pharmaceuticals, Dominion Resources and McCandlish Holton PC, but CNN’s Chris Frates explained that Kaine complied with the state law and “disclosed his gifts” while McDonnell did not.   

    PolitiFact noted that, contrary to Trump’s claim, McDonnell actually accepted almost three times as much in gifts as Kaine and that all of Kaine’s gifts were “disclosed as required by state law.” Fiske called Trump’s remark “dead wrong” and gave him PolitiFact’s highest rating of “Pants on Fire.” From the July 24 fact check:  

    Donald Trump welcomed U.S. Sen. Tim Kaine, D-Va., to the Democratic presidential ticket on Sunday by assailing the presumptive vice presidential nominee’s ethics.

    Appearing on NBC’s Meet the Press, Trump said Kaine accepted more political gifts than former Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell.

    That’s a big claim, because McDonnell, a Republican, stood trial for accepting $177,000 in undisclosed personal gifts from an entrepreneur who was seeking business with the state. The U.S. Supreme Court overturned McDonnell’s bribery convictions in June.

    "Bob McDonnell took a fraction of what Kaine took," said Trump, the GOP presidential nominee. "And I think, to me, it’s a big problem. Now, how do you take all these gifts? Hundreds of thousands of dollars."

    We wondered whether McDonnell’s gift-taking was, in fact, "a fraction" of Kaine’s. Trump’s campaign did not respond to our request for proof. So we set out on our own, comparing gifts Kaine received as lieutenant governor and governor from 2002 to 2010 to those McDonnell accepted as attorney general from 2006 to 2009 and as governor from 2010 to 2014.

    [...]

    Trump, speaking about gift-taking, said, "Bob McDonnell took a fraction of what (Tim) Kaine took."

    Kaine accepted $162,083 in gifts as lieutenant governor and governor, all of which was disclosed as required by state law.

    McDonnell disclosed accepting $275,707 in gifts as attorney general and governor. And there was another $177,000 that he didn’t disclose. That comes to a total of $452,707 in gifts - almost three times Kaine’s total.

    Trump has got this one dead wrong. We rate his statement Pants on Fire.

     
  • Trump Draws Media Criticism For His Connections To Russia After His “Downright Frightening” Statements On NATO

    ››› ››› ALEX MORASH

    Media figures have raised questions about Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump's connections, financial and otherwise, to Russia after he told The New York Times that he would honor NATO obligations to defend a member nation from a potential attack by Russia only if the member nation had “fulfilled their obligations to us.” Media figures have called the remarks “downright frightening,” possible evidence of a “non-tacit alliance” between Putin and Trump, and a possible cause for “an urgent investigation into whether Putin is interfering in the current American election.”